As we roll into the summer months, your workload may slow down. It’s that time of year when colleagues, clients, and vendors take time off for family vacations.
If you find yourself with downtime, use it to your advantage. Review your professional aspirations and create a plan of action.
Here are five questions to begin your assessment. These questions address the who, what, where, when, and how of your career plan.
1- Who are your advocates at work and in your industry?
Achieving your professional aspirations is easier if you have advocates. Look for connections who encourage you to pursue your professional goals but also provide candid feedback.
They could be mentors, colleagues, or even managers at your current employment. They could also be colleagues you’ve met at professional networking events or through volunteering in the community.
This group of individuals will become your resource, especially when you’re tackling an obstacle in your career.
They will also be your champion when you strive for a promotion. Make each one a priority to strengthen and build your relationship.
2- What do you need to do to meet your performance goals or advance to the next level?
Most firms have performance reviews that specify goals you need to achieve during the year. Review your goals and assess if you are on track.
If there are obstacles impeding you from achieving expected performance goals or advancing to the next level, figure out how you can overcome them.
Reach out to your connections outside of your firm for objective suggestions.
3- Where do you see yourself in the next 5, 10, and 20 years?
No matter where you are in your career – in the beginning, mid, or late stage – visualize your future. It’s easier to plan when you’re starting out with your career because you have many viable options.
When you’re in the mid-stage of your career, you may begin to question your path – which is completely normal. Expand your industry knowledge by reading and meeting other professionals. This knowledge and networking will help you formulate a plan.
If you’re in the late stage of your career, think about what you want to do with your time when you retire. Some people take on a consulting role or become a Board member. Retirement doesn’t mean you completely stop working.
You may not have the specifics or even know how you’ll achieve your future goals, but by creating a vision you’ll be motivated to begin the journey.
4- When will you take action?
Now that you’ve identified people that can help you and what you need to do for your career path, it’s time to take action. Create your personal deadlines for each goal you want to achieve.
You may need to break down some steps or you may need to develop a more detailed plan. In either case, it’s important to apply timeframes to help you keep moving forward.
With every accomplishment, you’ll move closer to your goal and fulfill your vision. At times, you may need to reassess your path or even your goal. But at least you’ll be taking action, which is the hardest part.
5- How will you accomplish all your professional goals while meeting other demands of life?
Historically, we talked about balancing work and life; but with technology, it’s expected for us to be accessible all the time. Instead of balance, we need to learn how to integrate our work with life.
Identify ways to work smarter instead of working longer hours. You may need to learn new skills or technology. Or you may even need to master time management.
Explore resources your company may offer to help you work smarter. Also, view videos and listen to podcasts to give you ideas on how to maximize your time.
It’s easy to sit back and enjoy the slower workload during the summer. But push yourself to use your time wisely. Use the who, what, where, when, and how questions to assess your career path. You’ll keep yourself challenged and engaged by taking ownership of your career. And remember to stay PEF – positive, enthused, focused.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”